April 30, 2018 Reef – Revelation (Album Review)
Eighteen years in the making, Britpop virtuoso’s, Reef, are set to release their long-awaited fifth studio album, Revelation, on Friday, May 4, 2018 thanks to the good people at earMUSIC.
Before discussing Revelation, for those unfamiliar with the UK based genre, Britpop came to fruition in the mid-1990s as a music and culture movement. In response to the darker lyrics of the American Alternative Rock/Grunge Rock movement, British bands such as Oasis and Blur chose to create a more sunnier, catchier version of the genre.
That in mind, a 25 year history, hailing from Glastonbury, England, Reef – Vocalist Gary Stringer, Guitarist Kenwyn House, Bassist Jack Bessant, and Drummer Dominic Greensmith – formed in 1993. After building a fanbase through touring, Reef struck a deal with Sony S2 and soon landed opening slots for top acts like The Rolling Stones and Soundgarden, exposing Reef to massive audiences. Soon after, Reef released their debut album, 1995’s Replenish, to notable success. However, it was Reef’s second album, 1997’s Glow, which soared, debuting at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart. Experiencing their first taste of success, Reef had now hit the big time. Reef’s next studio album, 1999’s Rides, was critically acclaimed and 2000’s Getaway became the band’s most commercial to date.
Sadly, Reef disbanded in 2003 after years of constant touring but the four talented musicians never strayed away from music as side projects kept the boys of Reef busy for the better part of the next seven years. Then, to the delight of fans, in 2010, Reef reunited for six shows and would continue to periodically perform live for several years. In 2014, House unfortunately parted ways with Reef, but the resilient band kept on moving. In May of 2014, Reef hired Guitarist Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood, and continued to play gigs all over the UK. Amidst beginning to write new music for their next album, in 2016, Reef landed their biggest gig ever after receiving a personal invite from Vocalist Chris Martin to provide direct support for Coldplay at Wembley Stadium.
By 2016, time had passed by quickly and for Reef’s first collection of new music in nearly two decades, the quartet knew it was imperative to give hungry fans nothing less than the best possible music on Revelation. Basing the sessions for Revelation out of a recording studio in Ireland, Reef looked to acclaimed veteran Producer George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers) who was previously at the helm for Reef’s hugely successful aforementioned sophomore album, Glow. So, after years of waiting patiently,what would Reef gift to fans after all this time? The answer, a stunning concoction of well-written, undeniable songs which span an array of genres from Hard Rock, R&B, Gospel, Soul, Blues, Southern Rock, all surrounded by the unmistakable style of 1960s British Pop/Rock.
Kicking things off, the title-track, “Revelation,” delivers that straight-up big Rock sound made famous by AC/DC as Stringer’s vocals blast the listener into the world of Reef. This is before the current single, “My Sweet Love,” featuring sensational guest vocals by Sheryl Crow, makes for an irresistible song filled with a tender innocence difficult to put into words. In fact, it is so good it would be an injustice to music if it is not a hit. Moving along, the yearning, angelic vocals of “Provide” carry the listener into the inspirational all out Gospel number “How I Got Over.” Keeping hope in a relationship, “Don’t Go Changing Your Mind” is the first of several ballads which cut like a knife. This is before “Just Feel Love” dishes out the slow and steady vibes of a great uptempo ballad with long, slow guitar riffs and the sad Blues feel of “First Mistake” rounds out the trio.
Furthermore, Reef continue to show the knack for big Rock numbers with “Precious Metal” and “Ball and Chain.” Still, they have more tricks up their sleeve, changing moods again with the joyful Rhythm & Blues/Soul bursts out of “Oh Darling Come Home Soon” before the ominous Southern Rock/Blues of “Lone Rider” rides into the sunset. Finally, closing out Revelation, “Like A Ship (Without A Sail)” is reassuring you can survive anything life throws your way.
A explosion of exquisite musical arrangements, Revelation is an immaculate collection of heavenly harmonies, gorgeous background vocals, and blissful melodies giving Reef an incredible comeback album. A marvelous vocalist, Gary Stringer slays each and every lyric like it may be his last in what is arguably one of the best vocal performances on today’s Modern Rock scene. Overall, Reef is a band more Rock fans need to know about. Magical and destined for greatness, CrypticRock gives Revelation 5 out of 5 stars.